10 Questions with Leader Charles Stone (And a book giveaway)

Charles Stone is an author and pastor. He serves as the senior pastor of Ginger Creek Community Church in the Chicago suburbs. Charles is full of wisdom and loves investing in other pastors. You can follow him on Twitter HERE.

In addition to the interview today, I’m giving away three (3) copies of his newest book, 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them. This book focuses on how to overcome pastoral burnout, frustration, and depression to be able to fully serve Christ, their families and, their churches. Pastor Charles Stone uses his thirty years in the ministry to identify five potent killers in pastors’ lives and shows how to defeat them to regain the hope and enthusiasm they once had for ministry.

If you want to win this book:

1. Comment on this post with your name and/or Twitter name.
2. RT this post

I will choose three random winners tonight after 9 PM, CST.

Here are 10 questions with leader Charles Stone:

When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?

I was going to be a marine biologist, until I realized at the time that there were only four jobs in that field each year.

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

During college I worked for a civil engineering company. We’d pop manhole covers to check sewerage. I climbed into many manholes to measure the sewerage dept with a wooden ruler. If we were in a neighborhood and I heard a ‘flush’ sound come through the holes above me that led to houses, I’ve have to scramble out…our else. This experience helped me learn when it was time to quit getting dumped on and walk away.

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

Probably Carl Marshall who pastored the church I attended when I felt God’s call to ministry. Before I went to seminary he gave me the best advice I ever got. “Find a church where you feel comfortable and just volunteer to serve anywhere they need you.” I did that and ended up being hired as the part-time singles minister at a large church with several hundred singles. I came to seminary with no experience, yet the church saw my willingness to serve and they hired me over several other ‘experienced’ seminarians who wanted a job, but didn’t want to serve first.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

Probably Philip Yancey’s two books, Disappointment with God and Where is God When it Hurts. These two books helped me develop a healthy theology of managing disappointment in ministry. I was so successful with a church plant in
Atlanta several years ago that attendance the first day of 51 grew to 17 in six months. That was tough on my ego. On top of that, in the first year our one year old faced brain surgery. Yancey’s insight into disappointment has served my wife and I well.

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

Focused, Fun, Productive

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

Seeing the big-picture connections, how things fit together (my undergrad degree is systems engineering).

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

Sometimes I struggle that I’m not making the impact I wanted/thought I’d make.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

I’ve had to fire a few people. I hate it, but sometimes it’s necessary.

What is one misconception about your position you think people in your church may have?

That pastors are immune to feeling disappointed, hurt, and discouraged.

If you could give one piece of advise to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

Find a safe person to whom you will give access to your inner world. Let them in. Let them lovingly make you aware of your blind spots. Do it early in ministry and be teachable and you will save yourself a lot of grief.

Are you facing burnout? Please read this book.

Monday’s Preparation Brings Friday’s Success

I was helping someone think strategically recently. We were looking at this person’s ministry, trying to design a system, which would allow for continual growth and improvement. The ministry has grown rapidly and the leader barely feels she can keep up with the current demands. She recognizes the need to delegate, grow new leaders, and spread out responsibility and ownership, but she can’t seem to get past the current demands of details to develop a plan to do so.

Have you ever been there?

While attempting to create a system with her, I think we may have gotten to the root of her problem (and one I’ve had many times personally). She looked at me with complete sincerity and said, “I just don’t have time to prepare…”

Have you ever thought that?

Do you see the problem with that statement? It’s a common misperception of all parts of life. We don’t feel we have time to do the required preparation to do the job right, so we continue in the mediocre success, while drowning in details. The reality, however, is that preparation time is often the most important part of the work. An inch of preparation is worth a mile of success.

It’s Monday. Take a few minutes to prepare. It will make the rest of the week much easier and more effective. (I hope even the most literal thinkers can realize this isn’t just a Monday morning principle….)

Have you learned the value of preparation? Share your methods of preparation to encourage others.

Read more about the value of preparation HERE and HERE and HERE.

Happy Father’s Day Challenge: The Nurturing Dad

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Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 NIV

Fathers are not usually seen as the nurturing ones in a family. When my boy’s get sick, they don’t want me, they want Cheryl. The Bible, however, tends to also place the father in a nurturing position. We are told not to “exasperate” our children, which means not to wear them out with correction, but to “bring them up”. That phrase literally means that we spend time with them on a regular basis and encourage them in the development of their character.  That sounds like nurturing to me.

The Bible tends to lay responsibility on the father to help set the tone or the climate of the home. A father, who is consistently harsh or is never satisfied with his children, will tend to produce children who lack the confidence to face tough situations in life. On the other hand, a father too quiet and passive to be intimately involved in the lives of children will likely lead to adults who cannot connect well with others, either in the workplace or in their own marriages and homes.

Fathers are often one of the best determinates of a child’s future success in life. If a boy never feels he meets his father’s approval, he may become either an underachiever or an overachiever, but he will likely never feel that he “measures up” in life. A girl whose father fails to affirm her will often seek that approval from another man, often in seeking inappropriate or less than ideal relationships. She may enter marriage unrealistically expecting something from a husband that he may or may not be able to give. I haven’t even mentioned the effects of an absentee or abusive father.

The biggest impact in the life of a child whose father never nurtures is that they often have a harder time realizing the nurturing aspect found in a loving relationship with a Heavenly Father. Without the model from an earthly father, they see God more in the role of Judge than of “Abba”; which is the Hebrew term for our modern “Daddy”.

I’m thankful for the grace and mercy of God that allows so many second chances for fathers who have missed the mark, but if we desire to be Godly fathers, we will strive to nurture our children in love.

For more thoughts on parenting, click HERE.

Happy Father’s Day!

What changes do you need to make this year to be a more nurturing dad?

An Omer is One-Tenth an Ephah

Yesterday I Tweeted this verse:

(An omer is one tenth of an ephah.) Exodus 16:36 NIV

I received some great replies, such as: “Thanks a lot!” and “That really helps!”

I was simply being silly, but truthfully, this has been one of my favorite verses over the years. I wrote a devotional about it at my Mustard Seed site in 1998!

Here is that devotional to explain:

Have you ever read a word or phrase in the Bible and it kind of caused you to ask….”Say what?” Well, that’s what the word “omer” did for me the first time I read it.

I had been eagerly reading the account of Moses and the Israelites on their journey to the promised land. God had provided for them each step of the way. Each morning they had their manna (bread), and in the evening they were provided quail. Now, I know that manna is a crisp and sweet tasting flaky bread type food, because the Bible tells me so.

But, what is an omer? What type of measurement is that? Moses, the writer of Exodus, tells us that each day the people were given an “omer” of manna. Okay, now just how much is that?

So, at the end of the 16th chapter, after continuing in my confusion, I read an answer: An omer is one tenth of an ephah! Well, of course it is…thank you very much! Problem solved.

Which begs another question………WHAT’S AN EPHAH?

But, you know, the answer I think lies more in what I don’t know than it does in what I do. You see, it doesn’t really matter! What matters is that the omer was just enough! It was all they needed for the day. No more…and no less!

And, you know what the best news of the day is? God’s word promises to His children today is that He will still provide for us our “omer”!

Now, I really don’t know how much that will be for you today….or for me…but I know this……..it will be just enough!

Oh Lord, give us this day our daily bread…our omer!

Thank God for your omer today!

Michael Hyatt on Twitter

What a great week it has been for my friend Michael Hyatt! He was named Chairman at Thomas Nelson in addition to his current role as C.E.0. I’m sure another highlight of his week was being interviewed on this blog! SmileyYou can read that post HERE.

I thought it was timely to share this video which Michael shared earlier on his blog and others have shared. I get asked all the time how I have time to Twitter. Michael does better than I could at explaining it’s importance.

Watch this short video of Michael explaining the impact of Twitter for him at the Christian Leadership Alliance Conference:

How Can Christian Leaders Get Started with Social Media? from Michael Hyatt on Vimeo.

How has Twitter impacted your leadership?

Personal Story: The Pastor I was Sent to Help


Years ago I was pastoring a church in a small town. I was new to the pastorate, having surrendered to full-time ministry only a short time before I came to this church. The church knew I had a master’s in counseling, so several members approached me one day and asked me if I would reach out to the pastor of another church in town. This pastor was decades older than me, but he had lost a son within the last year and was struggling with life.

I knew that this pastor frequented a local diner every morning, so I decided at least once a week that it would become my first stop each day. Over time, we formed a friendship, he began to trust me, and, most importantly, he began to share his broken heart with me. He became one of my dearest friends.

My pastor friend passed away about six months into our relationship. I still think of him and his absence with a heavy heart. I miss him. I will never forget the last months of our friendship and how he consistently told me that God had sent me to him. He was so appreciative of our time together.

He died unexpectedly and, though I had told him how much he meant to me, I never fully communicated to him what I grew to understand, perhaps because I didn’t fully process our relationship until months after he was gone. God confirmed some truths to me after his death:

I was sent to him…I believe that is true….but, equally true…he was sent to me…

My pastor friend, with his years of experience, helped me as a new pastor learn how to handle situations and deal with people in my church. He was a listening ear when things were not going as I thought they should go. He was an encourager to keep doing the things God had called me to do. He was iron sharpening my iron.

Looking back, God used him in my life perhaps far more than I was used in his.

Have you ever had a similar situation? Has the one you were sent to help ended up helping you? To whom could God be sending you today? Could it be that they need your help…and you need theirs?

Are you willing to get messy with people to help them…so that they can help you?

My Current Top 13 Online Influencers List

Over the last few years, through Twitter and personal blogs, I have gained so much by networking online with other church and ministry leaders. Periodically I like to share the ones most currently influencing me with their online presence in case you have missed any of them. Since they are well known, chances are you have them on your list already. If so, this is simply a tribute. If not, I encourage you to follow their work. (Obviously some are not individuals, but an organization/ministry.)

There are others who are making a difference, even in my leadership. I chose these people/groups because not only are they making a difference and giving good content specufucally helpful to the church leadership world, they have made themselves accessible to church leaders like me also. You will likely see these leaders on stage some day at a conference. You may even read their books. These organizations have real people behind them who interact with followers. I realize we have to protect our time so we can remain effective, but I love when people are available to the people learning from them. To me that is the total package.

I tried to narrow it to 12, but instead I ended with a “dirty dozen”. In no specific order, here are my top 13 influencers currently: (If you click on their name it will take you to their blog or the word Twitter beside their name to get to their Twitter page.)

Catalyst Leader / / Twitter

Scott Williams / / Twitter

Anne Jackson / / Twitter

Tim Stevens / / Twitter

Michael Hyatt / / Twitter

Tony Morgan / / Twitter

Dave Ferguson / / Twitter

Jenni Catron / / Twitter

Mac Lake / / Twitter

Church Relevance / / Twitter

Pete Wilson / / Twitter

Orange Leaders / / Twitter

Stuff Christians Like / / Twitter

Who else would you add to this list? Who do I need to be following that I am not?

Catalyst Post: An Empowering Leader Update


Recently I wrote a post called 10 Reasons Not to Call Yourself and Empowering Leader. I have enjoyed partnership and friendship with the Catalyst Leader team. Jesse Phillips is a tremendous young leader and handles the web content for Catalyst. He consistently encourages me to help leaders know “how to” implement the principles I write about on this blog. At his request, I took the empowering leaders post and added to it. You can read some of that post at the Catalyst site.

Click HERE to be taken to that post.

Are you going to any of the upcoming Catalyst One Day’s or Catalyst East in Atlanta? Have you been to a Catalyst conference? I’d love to meet you there.

Read my posts from my last Catalyst One Day HERE.

10 Questions with Leader Michael Hyatt – Thomas Nelson Publishers


Michael Hyatt
is one of the best leaders I know.   I have had the privilege of getting to know Michael personally over the last couple of years, having met him first through Twitter.  What I have come to understand is that Michael is the same online as he is in person.  When I first published this, Michael was the C.E.O. of (Thomas Nelson, the largest Christian publisher. He has since retired as C.E.O, but remains the company’s Chairman. He is extremely accessible and transparent through his online involvement, and he is a model husband and father. In addition, Michael is a true Kingdom-builder and loves Jesus passionately. When I think of a well-balanced leader, I think of Michael Hyatt.

You can follow Michael’s blog HERE and on Twitter HERE.

Here are 10 questions with leader Michael Hyatt:

When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally?  If not, what did you want to do?

When I was in elementary school, I thought I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer. I was fascinated by space flight and science fiction. In the 9th grade, I started playing guitar. In fact, I majored in music for my first two years of college. I thought I would be a professional musician. However, when I become a Christian, I wanted to serve in full-time Christian ministry. In fact, I was planning to go to seminary, until I discovered the world of book publishing.

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

I have worked in book publishing for my entire career, so I have to go back to high school to find a job that was really different. I sold cable television subscriptions door-to-door for a while. The challenge of making cold calls has served me well. In my job, I spend a lot of time doing things that I have never done before. Selling door-to-door taught me to overcome my fear and just step out in faith.

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

I actually blogged about this recently. I would have to say Robert Wolgemuth, my former boss, business partner, and now close friend. He was such a consistent example to me. He really walked his talk in every area of his life. In particular, he modeled integrity, responsiveness, and gratitude. I find myself coming back to these character qualities again and again as the core of my own success.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

This is a tough question for a book publisher to answer. I love so many different kinds of books. If I had to pick one, it would be For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann, an Eastern Orthodox seminary professor and priest. The premise of the book is that everything is sacramental. Every person you meet, every experience you have, manifests the presence of God—if you have the eyes to see it. This book shaped my worldview more than any other.

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

Energetic, prolific, and polished. (It feels awkward to say this, but I am trying to be objective.)

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

My ability to make complex ideas simple. I am obsessed with making things easier to understand and communicating them in ways that people can grasp and remember.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

Boredom. I love to build things. I hate to maintain them. I’m like a shark; I have to keep moving or I drown. This means I have a short attention span. My focus drifts if projects or meetings take too long.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

Meet people and be sociable. Many people are surprised to learn that I am an extreme introvert. I love being with my family and close friends. But attending social functions where I don’t know people and have to be “on” is challenging. It depletes my energy and takes a toll emotionally. I have to be intentional about building space into my schedule to recharge.

What is one misconception about your position you think people in your organization may have?

That it must be great to be the CEO and call all the shots. My position is mostly about solving very difficult problems. The easy problems get solved before they get to me. Often times, I am having to chose between two bad options. This is where the stress comes in.

If you could give one piece of advise to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

You are not as smart as you think you are. Therefore, stay humble. You have more potential than you can possibly imagine. Therefore, remain faithful. Keep growing, and be patient. Your time will come.

Have you been impacted by the online presence of Michael Hyatt? Tell me about it.

Do you understand what Michael means when he talks about his Introversion?

Your Doubts are NOT Your Problem: Unbelief Is

We are in a new series at Grace Community Church called Outsiders, looking at some characters in the Bible who aren’t as well known as other characters, yet who made huge impacts to the Kingdom.  Yesterday I spoke about the disciple Thomas. Though some know him as Doubting Thomas, I prefer the title I have also heard by which I’ve also heard him referred, Thomas the Believer.  In this message, I address the bottom line that doubts are not the major problem for a believer, unbelief is.  Ultimately we must go from doubts to a solid foundation of faith; that God is who He says He is and will do what is best in our life.

If you wish to view this message, here it is in it’s entirety.

For an audio version of this message, click HERE.

I also shared that some people are more naturally wired to doubt (some may even say worry), because of their personality.  Would that describe you? Be honest!